5 Best Exercises to Become Master of Rowing Machine

Rowing exercises can help you master the machine. (Image via Unsplash/ Bastien Plu)
Rowing exercises can help you master the machine. (Image via Unsplash/ Bastien Plu)

Rowing machine exercises are popular in most gyms, as they're good for strengthening the back, arms, and legs. They also help with cardio and overall body composition.

While rowing machines can help you with your workout goals, it's important to know how to use them correctly so that you don't injure yourself or waste time doing exercises that won't help you achieve your goals.

In this article, we'll share our favorite exercises for improving performance on a rowing machine. These moves will help you become more efficient in working out on a rower so that each minute spent using it gets maximized.

Exercises to Master Rowing Machine

Here's a look at five such exercises:

#1 Standard Seated Row

The standard seated row is a great way to build muscle and burn fat. It targets your entire body and is especially good for your upper body, lower body, and core.

To perform the standard seated row on a rowing machine:

  • Sit facing the rig with your knees bent at 90 degrees (or as close as possible). Your feet should be flat on the floor or footrests if available. If you don't have access to the proper footrests, simply sit on rubber mats or yoga blocks so that there's enough height for your legs to bend comfortably without having to strain them unnecessarily.
  • Lean back slightly so that you're comfortable but not slouched down in favor of comfort over posture. That will help protect against injury while working out. Keep your arms extended straight in front of you at shoulder level, with grip handles and palms facing up towards the ceiling.


#2 Single-Arm Cable Row

Here's how it's done:

  • Use a single-arm cable row attachment.
  • Attach the cable attachment to one side of the machine, and set the weight to its highest setting.
  • Grab hold of the handle in your hand.
  • Set your feet on top of the other side of this cable machine if possible, but do not put them flat against it. That's because doing so will allow you to lean back too much when rowing; if you cannot reach that far, keep both feet firmly planted on either side.
  • Row back with one arm keeping the rest of your body locked.
  • Keep your chest straight and your back arched. Use only the designated hand to row it back to you.
  • Do 10-12 reps before switching to the other arm.


#3 Underhand Grip Cable Row

To do an underhand grip cable row, you'll need a rope attachment and a low pulley. Here's how it's done:

  • Stand with your feet shoulder-width apart, and grab the handle with both hands using an underhand grip, one hand next to the other.
  • Bend your knees slightly while keeping your back straight, and pull the handle towards you till it touches your chest.
  • Slowly release it to the starting position without letting it go all the way down or up too far in front of you.
  • Perform 8-12 reps before switching sides.

The underhand grip allows you to focus on your lats (latissimus dorsi), which gives your body a winged V-taper. Building strong lats can greatly accentuate your physique so that you don't want to skimp on this exercise.


#4 Cable Upright Row

This exercise is one of the best for developing a strong back, especially your rear delts. It's done as follows:

  • Stand facing the cable machine with a medium-length handle in each hand.
  • Keep your arms straight, and raise them up till they're parallel with your torso, palms facing inward towards each other (an underhand grip).
  • Pause for two seconds at the top of each rep before lowering back down to complete one rep.
  • You can perform this movement either standing or sitting down on a bench or chair, depending on what type of equipment you have available to use in the gym where you work out.
  • If doing these upright rows standing up, make sure there's nothing in front of you that could trip you up, as that would cause serious injury.


#5 HIIT Row

HIIT Rows are a great exercise to improve your rowing technique, which can help you become a better rower. This type of training helps develop both the upper and lower body, as well as increase cardiovascular fitness.

To perform this exercise, you will require a rowing machine. The simplest way to incorporate HIIT into your rowing sessions is by simply reducing the rest time between sets. That means, you'll be doing an intense set, probably till failure, before taking a 10-15 second break and jumping right back into the next set.


To make things tougher, you could pair your rowing exercises with another exercise, and superset the two together.


Rowing is one of the best machines for both upper and lower body workouts. It can help you improve your core strength, build up muscles in your back and arms, and work on your balance, endurance and flexibility.

Rowing machines offer many benefits that make it an effective way to exercise while you're comfortable as well.

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Edited by Bhargav
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